September 2, 2004

Good Mix Of Veterans, Youth Have Tigers Vying For Another Title

High school football teams lose talented players each year to graduation. This year is no exception for Scotland County, as the Tigers will have to replace eight graduating seniors that were all-conference performers in 2003. While the team returns a solid core of seniors this season, a talented but inexperienced sophomore class will likely be the determining factor for the 2004 SCR-I Tigers.

“We have a lot of good seniors this year, and we have a lot of sophomores filling key spots,” said Coach Brent Bondurant. “How these young kids perform will be the big question for us.”

At least four sophomores will get the nod in skill positions on offense.

Marcus Shalley will be taking over the quarterback job. He took some snaps at the varsity level last season when starter Danny Roach missed action. Coach Bondurant said the team will look to Shalley to build on a strong junior varsity season in 2003 as he could be at the reigns for SCR-I for the next three years.

Shalley will likely be throwing to several familiar faces. Sophomores Matt Wickert and Grant Blomme will split time at wide receiver while sophomore Colby Brown will see time at tight end.

“We have a lot of leadership on this team so hopefully our veteran players will rally around these young guys and make it happen for us this year,” Bondurant said.

The Tigers won’t be forced to throw the young passing attack to the wolves thanks to a very talented offensive line led by all-conference performer Michael Garnett. After earning second-team honors at center during his junior year, Garnett will move to right tackle to team with fellow senior, right guard Greg Neagle to give the team an imposing right side of the line. Senior Jon Keller, a starter in 2003 will also fit into the mix as the season progresses after he missed most of pre-season practice.

“We are definitely going to be strong on the right side of the ball and hope to be able to take advantage of these guys with our running game,” Bondurant said.

Sophomore Lance Smith has been taking most of the snaps at center for the team. The left side of the line will feature a combination of seniors Devin Mauck, Kevin Moffett and Reece Hogarth.

The backfield will return four players with varsity experience from last year. Senior Tim Robinson rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown last year as the back up for Joel Myers. B.J. Houghton carried the ball 22 times for 95 yards. Joe Talbert, who played last year at slot back, likely will start at fullback, giving the team another powerful blocker in the running attack. Sophomore Zach McBee is coming off an impressive pre-season and Coach Bondurant said he likely will figure into the backfield equation as well.

Last year’s fullback, Jared Shelley, will move to slot back where he could quickly become Shalley’s favorite target. Shelley could also see time in the backfield and is the team’s back-up quarterback along with Bryce Blomme.

The squad’s special team’s are in good hands. Robinson was a unanimous first team all-conference selection at kicker. He made 21 of 22 extra points in 2003 as well as a pair of field goals including one of 38 yards. Houghton gave the team a dangerous kick returner, taking the ball back an average of 26 yards per attempt and also ran one back for a TD.

There will be big shoes to fill on defense as well as SCR-I must replace its top three tacklers from a year ago.

The Tigers have some impressive size up front where Coach Bondurant also has plenty of depth. He said he is looking for a huge season from Greg Neagle at the defensive end where the Coach says the senior can be an unstoppable force. Garnett likely will start at the other end with Hogarth and Moffett at the tackle spots. Bondurant said he has Smith and Colby Peterson for interior line spots as well where they can clog up the opposition’s running game.

Anything that gets through the line will run into some solid talent at the next level of defense where SCR-I features a talented linebacker crew. Shelley, the team’s emotional leader, will head the group. He recorded 96 tackles in 2003 and also made three interceptions. Robinson also returns as a starting linebacker after racking up 64 stops a year ago. Joe Talbert split time at defensive back and linebacker last season, making 51 tackles. They will be joined by Houghton, the lone junior in the crew.

The Tigers will have one returning starter in the defensive backfield. Senior Carl Snyder took over midway through the year at cornerback and had a solid year. He will be joined by Grant Blomme at the other cornerback spot while Wickert will be the starting safety.>

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